Today's Obsession: Your Value on Facebook

At the Daily Beast, technology editor Thomas Weber and a handful of friends have performed a semi-scientific experiment to see what gets you into your friends’ news feeds. An interesting question, to be sure, since Facebook isn’t telling. I’ve assumed for a long time that Facebook’s qualifications of material matches what they want people to do, and this make steps towards validating that.

Some of the more interesting findings, stated here as if Facebook’s valuation of activity reflects your actual value as a person:

  1. if people don’t comment upon your posts, you remain invisible, because you are less important. If they do comment upon your work, you become more important, and you begin to show up in the “News Feed” versus “Most Recent.”
  2. if you share video and imagery, you’re more important than someone who just shares text.
  3. if you share a link, you’re more important than someone who just shares text.

All of these things point to the absolute banality of social media. Some of my friends post much more interesting, dense material than others, but they get drowned out. Unusual, hard-to-grasp ideas almost never get commented upon in a pool of people with mixed intelligence levels, because frankly, the smarter folks are probably reading and researching. Meanwhile everyone can grasp what a cute baby is. So by Facebook’s standards, that means smart people with interesting content are worth less. Use your little poppet as social currency while you can!

Welcome to your new social qualification, everyone. Soon we’ll all be PR people as a matter of social survival.

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